Disclaimer: Not mine, no money is being made from this.

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski

Summary: Post COTW Fraser and Ray travel to Florida to visit the Vecchios. Sequel to Journey's End.


by Journey

The mall is crowded. As usual, we're walking almost shoulder to shoulder, our steps in cadence. The crowd parts before us responding to the purpose and attitude we evidently convey. Our destination looms ever nearer. Without breaking stride we enter...JCPenney. Men's Department. Fraser needs clothes.


After finishing our quest for the Hand of Franklin, Frase decided to settle in Canada and I decided to stay with him. There may be red ships and green ships but there's no ships like partnerships. No ships like this partnership, anyway.

Deciding to stay in Canada meant, however, a trip back to the states to finish up my business (sublet the apartment, officially resign from the CPD, relocate the turtle, pack my stuff) in Chicago. Since we were in the states, anyway, we decided to extend our visit and head down to Florida. Now, I know that Fraser and Florida in the same sentence, let alone the same latitude, is crazy but Fraser felt it was important. So we boarded Dief with Francesca and hopped in the GTO to head down south to take care of some unfinished business with....the Vecchios.

You know, Ray and Stella. The Style Pig and The Stella. His ex-partner, my ex-wife......

Guess who's coming to dinner....

Fraser, of course has never been to Florida. Fraser has never been further south than Illinois. Nevertheless, convincing Fraser to get new clothes was somewhat of a challenge. This conversation took place somewhere south of Indianapolis.

"Frase, you need new clothes."

"Honestly, Ray. The clothes I have a perfectly serviceable. I cannot imagine what you're going on about."

"Florida, Frase. Florida in June. Temperatures in the high 80s all the time, high 90s alotta the time. You do not wear jeans and flannel in Florida."

"Surely it cools off in the evening."

"No, Frase, it doesn't. Hot, humid, 24/7. We're not going down there so you can die of heatstroke. Shorts, trunks, and tanks."

"Really, Ray, it seems pointless to buy clothes that I'm going to wear for less than a week."

"Look, Frase. Before embarking upon our search for Franklin's Hand, did you not take me to what passed for the local mall in your area and outfit me appropriately for said journey?"

"Of course, Ray, but need I remind you that those clothes were necessary adaptations to a climate with which you were not familiar...I mean, I was concerned for your health and appropriate clothes were a vital....Ah, I see." Brain's working, now that those fingers are on his eyebrow.

"AND did I not TRUST you to know what ya were doin' and submit meekly?"

"Well, meekly, is going a bit far..."

"AND aren't you just being contrary and alpha here because this wasn't YOUR idea?"

"Well, that's just silly, Ray."

"Good. We'll stop on the way down."

Which is how we found ourselves at the JCPenney's in the Macon Mall just outside of Macon, Georgia on the way to the Sunshine State.


The salesgirl's name is Candi or Barbie or something, and her reaction to Fraser is fairly predictable.

"May I help you?" Eyes wide and chest heaving, Salesgirl Barbie practically leaps over the little counter toward Fraser.

"Ah, yes. Well, it seems I find myself in need of summer wear and I, that is we," indicating my presence with a wave, "would like to be directed toward whatever compliment of....How did you put it, Ray?"

"Shorts. Trunks. Tanks."

"Ah, yes. Toward whatever compliment of shorts, trunks and tanks you may have."

Wordy Fraser gets it all out, finally and lickety-split Barbie hops out from behind the counter and links her arm with Fraser's to escort him to the sportswear area. The fact that she steps on my foot in the process does nothing to make me like her.

Luckily, we don't have far to go. Once in sportswear and surrounded by the type of clothing we need, Fraser turns and thanks Barbie.

"Ah, I see we have what we need here. Thank you very kindly for your assistance."

"You're very welcome. Would you like me to help you pick something out? I'm sure we could find something that would really...set you off." Her eyes travel up and down Fraser like he's the missile and she's the silo. He, of course, blushes.

"N-n-n-o thank you. Really. I think we can manage by ourselves."

"Well, if you're sure..." she gives him yet another come-hither stare, which he misses because he's looking at me. I can't stand it anymore. What is she, dense?

"Hey, Salesgirl Barbie. He said `no, thank you.' That's Canadian for Back Off." I move between her and Fraser and cross my arms. "He's too polite to tell you that, but I'm not. So why don't ya take yerself back to your little cash register and we'll bring you the stuff when we're ready." I glare at her until she turns with a little humph! noise and takes off.

"Thank you, Ray."

"What, you didn't want her to find something to `set you off?' "

"Not really, Ray." He's flipping through shirts on their hangers, trying to find something to go with the shorts he's already picked up.

I start looking too. "You want I should find something to set you off?"

"I think I've already found it." I look up and he's looking at me, with a warmth in his eyes he never shows to anyone else. I feel my ears turning red and drop my eyes before my mouth stretches into the silly grin it wants to. Then, I look at the clothes in his hands.

"Red shirt and black shorts with a yellow stripe?? Jeez, Frase. Try and think outside the box once in awhile. I suppose next you'll be wanting some red high tops?"

"Of course, Ray. The Summer Uniform." His eyes are dancing.

"You crack me up, Mountie. You really do." I brush up against him as I move toward another rack. When I pass him, I feel his hand on the back of my neck and then feel it slide lower in between my shoulder blades. The hair on my neck stands up. "Hey, what's up?" I turn and look at him.

"Your hackles, Ray."

"Yeah, well, they're down now but I make you no promises if you keep flirting with aggressive women." I point my fingers at him.

"I'll try to behave, Ray."

"Yeah, well, see that you do. Now, get over here. You and your extra layer of fat are gonna need tank tops in Florida."

When we get out of there, Fraser has new trunks, 3 pairs of shorts, a coupla short sleeve shirts and 6 tank tops. Oh yeah, and a pair of red canvas high tops. I just couldn't resist.

                         ********************************** On the road again, Fraser looks as relaxed as I've ever seen him. He's all but slouched in the corner created by the front seat and the door, with one knee bent and one socked foot on the seat in between us, reading one of his Dad's journals. Being Fraser, he is still in his jeans ("We're not in Florida, yet, Ray.") although he is wearing a short sleeve T-shirt. Navy. It does things for him.

I take my hand from the wheel and stretch it, then wave it in front of the a/c to dry the sweat. Fraser looks up.

"Hand cramp, Ray?"

"Nah, its just hot." I glance at him quick-like.

"I could rub it for you..." I look at him again and catch the heat in his eyes.

"Yeah, you know, it hurts like hell, actually."

I attempt a casual tone, but my breath catches when he takes my hand in both of his. The physical side of this thing between us has been progressing slowly for arctic and other reasons, and just the feel of his skin on mine is arousing. He starts with the center of my hand, pushing hard with his thumb and fingers in a circular pattern. Then he moves to the heel and the base of my thumb. Whatever he does there makes the inside of my thumb start to melt. He moves up to the fleshy area under my fingers and rubs each one between his thumb and fingers until my whole palm feels like Jell-O. Then, he starts on my fingers.

Within seconds, I'm hard. His fingers wrap around my fingers in a way my dick instinctively recognizes and wants. He makes a circle of his thumb and first finger and with just the right amount of pressure, he works his way up my index finger to the tip. He slides the skin and pulls the muscles and twists right at the top. Then he repeats it. I shift in my seat and moan. He moves onto to my middle finger. Same thing--slide, pull, twist, moan. Repeat. Next, the ring finger. Slide, pull, twist, slide, pull, twist. The traffic in front of me is blurring together. Christ, I'm gonna come in my pants just from this if he doesn't stop. I risk a quick glance at him. His head is down and he's concentrating and as I watch, his tongue comes out to lick across his lower lip. That's it, I'm done, can't take it any more, I groan and yank my hand out of his grasp.

His head jerks up, startled, he was so into it. He's breathing hard, too. I put my hand back on the wheel and grip it hard to stop the shaking. "Wh-wh-what was that, Fraser?"

"A handjob, Ray."

Surprised, I can't stop the laugh that bubbles up and out of me. Then, Fraser's laughing with me. And we keep moving southward down I-75 into the state of Florida.


Stella and the Style Pig live and run their bowling alley just outside of Sarasota. Rather than stay with them, which Fraser felt was an imposition and I felt was just plain weird, we have reservations to camp at a nearby state park.

We pull into the Oscar Scherer State Recreation Area at about 9:00 that evening. The ranger takes our money and gives us a map that marks our tent site. I follow the winding, little road past mostly unoccupied tent sites all the way around to site 36. I pull up and park.

In the lights of the GTO we set up camp quickly and efficiently. Can't say we haven't had a lot of practice. The complete absence of snow and frozen tundra makes things easier.

Once camp is shipshape, Fraser heads for the restroom and I get my pack from the car and crawl into the tent to stow it. Fraser's already rolled out the bedrolls and set up a battery operated lantern. I unzip my pack and dig for my flip flops. While I'm taking off my shoes, Fraser comes in.

I look up at him. "Hi."

"Hi, Ray. It's hot." Sure enough he's already sweating.

"Yeah, well, not to say I told you so, but I do believe I mentioned it might be. Whyn't you get out of your jeans and try out your new trunks? We could walk down to the ocean."

"Actually, its the Gulf of Mexico, Ray."

"Niggle all you want, Frase, it'll still have some sort of breeze and a chance to get wet."

"Right you are." He leaves the tent to get the bags with his new clothes from the car. While he's gone, I skin out of my shorts to change into my swimsuit. He comes back in while I'm still struggling to pull up my trunks.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Ray." He hangs, head down, half-in and half-out of the tent.

"Jeez, Frase. It's no big deal." Despite my words, I feel my ears turning red. I forget sometimes that even though it feels like Frase lives in my heart and walks around in my brain, he's never slept in my bed in anything other than longjohns and 16 other accompanying layers of clothing.

I finish getting my trunks on with one final tug and put my hand on Frase's shoulder. "Hey."

He looks up. His face is still red and his eyes don't quite meet mine. I lean down and put my forehead on his. "Hey, Frase. It's okay. We got lots of time." I kiss him fast on the cheek and climb out past him. "I'm gonna hit the can and then we'll walk down to the beach."

He's all changed by the time I get back and the sight of him in a tank top is one to behold. Our campsite backs up to the dunes and we follow a little path to a boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. We walk side by side, close but not touching. The moon is full and lights up the night. The breeze over the Gulf ruffles his hair and I hear him sigh.

I nudge his shoulder with mine. "Feel better?"

"Yes." He cracks his neck and rolls his shoulders and looks at me. "Race you to the water." And he's off. I gape at him for one second before pelting after him as fast as my flip flops will allow. Sonofabitch is wearing sneakers and sucker-punched me for a head start, but I have the determination of the righteously indignant.

He's halfway to the water when I clear the boardwalk steps, but luckily the tide is out. I kick off the flip flops once I hit the sand and really get moving. All that time on snowshoes in the Arctic must have been good for me because I'm not even breathing hard. He's loping along ahead of me and I'm actually catching up. Just as I pull almost even, pain explodes in my right foot and I hit the sand with an audible thud that pushes all the air out of my lungs.

I roll over on my back, gasping like a beached tuna. I know I've got the wind knocked out of me, but I can't seem to relax enough for my body to remember how to get it back. Fraser's face appears above me. "Easy, Ray." I feel his hands, competent and professional, sliding up my left leg and down my right looking for injuries. He holds my right foot for moment, than sets it down in the sand gently. Then I feel his hands on my shoulders and chest just rubbing softly. Underneath that touch, my body relaxes finally and I can take a breath.

I lay there for another minute or so just enjoying the sensation of breathing without interruption, and then attempt a sitting position. Fraser offers a hand and I take it.

"Whew, thanks, Frase."

"You're welcome, Ray. Are you injured anywhere else?"

"Other than my foot, you mean? Nah, I don't think so. What did I do?" I bend my knee and gather my foot in closer to look at it. Fraser hands me the flashlight he used when he was looking me over. My big toe is swollen and already black and blue. It hurts like hell, but I don't think its broken. I lean back on my elbows and look for Fraser.

He's moved a little ways away and seems to be idly kicking the sand. Well, it would look idle if I didn't know him. Sure enough, as I watch, he squats and digs out an object and brings it to me. It's a beer bottle.

"That what I hit?"

"Most likely." He sits next to me, his shoulder touching mine.


"I'm sorry, Ray."

"You got nothing to be sorry about, Frase. Except the fact that you were about to lose the race." I shift a little and face him.

"I'm sorry you're hurt. And I was not going to lose." Now he's facing me, too.

"You were so going to lose, Frase. Besides, now you can kiss it and make it better."

I hear his indrawn breath, feel it ghost across my face. "Frasers never lose, Ray. Are you sure you want me to kiss your toe?"

"You, Fraser, were going to lose. And I do not want you to kiss my toe." His mouth is so close, my lips brush his as I form my words.

"I was not. And, ...you don't?"

"You were. And, ...no, not my toe."

"Ah, you want me to kiss something else?" I feel the puffs of air as he speaks.

"Yeah, my ass if you don't hurry up."

"Later, Ray."

Finally, finally his mouth is on mine and it's perfect. Perfect and right and exactly what I need. His lips are soft. Softer than I mighta thought they'd be. I run my tongue over the bottom one and he starts to shake but opens right up. I kinda slide my tongue in to see what's up and he just loses it. The kiss goes from `hi-how-are-you' to `do-me, do-me-now' all in one big rush. Next thing I know I'm on my back in the sand and he's laying on top of me looking for my tonsils with his tongue. I clutch at his shirt then move my hands to his hair. So long since I've been in this place with another person. Still reeling a little that its him I want. But I do want.

Hot. Wet. Hard. My cock is hard enough to drill holes in the wet sand, and I can feel him riding hard against my hip. Soft. His hair around my fingers is soft, thick and silky, like fur. His body on mine, his teeth on my neck almost biting, hot but safe, too. Weird. Weird that I like being under him. That's the safe part. The teeth are the hot part. My shoulder goes hot and stinging under his mouth. Marking. He's marking me. I'm his. I'm his. He's mine. Gotta show that too.

Lift my head a little, lick along his collarbone. He likes that, moans and bucks up against my hip. Find a soft spot just below his shoulder and above that collar bone and latch on. His thrusting gets harder and he's panting now against my neck. There's no question this is turning his crank. I finish up and slide my mouth back up to his and go after his tongue. His eyes are wild and dark and when I start to suck on his tongue, he closes them and speeds up with his hips. Maybe we started slow, but we're making up for it now.

I slide my hands down his back to the curves of his ass and buck up against him. Friction is my friend. We've just gotten a serious take-me-to-the-edge-rhythm going when he goes still against me, buries his face in my shoulder and clutches me harder. I can feel him take a deep, shuddering breath and then another. I moan and try to get him moving again, but he's a deadweight against me. Gasping, I try to pull back to look at him, but he won't let me.

"Hey, Frase? You okay?" He's still holding on tight, so I close my eyes and hug him back and rock him a little. Okay, Okay, what's this? I try to get a few blood cells back from my crotch to help my brain work this out. I take refuge in comfort. "Shhhh. It's okay. I got you." He seems to relax just a bit. I rub my hands over his back and repeat myself. "It's okay. I got you. I got you."

"Ray," His voice breaks and my name comes out all scratchy and uneven.

"Yeah, Frase?" I hold him tighter and keep rubbing his back, and still trying to figure out what's bothering him.

"Ray,...I'm close...Ray..." His voice breaks again and his hips half-hitch against mine like he's trying hard to keep them still. I get it now.

"That's great, Frase. That's good. That's why I'm here getting sand in my hair. You're supposed to feel good." I keep rubbing his back but let my hands drift lower to the curves of his ass and gradually start up a rhythm again. "Let go, Fraser. I got you. I got your back. No worries," I whisper. My heart breaks that he thinks he has to be so in control all the time, that he doesn't deserve even the simplest of pleasures. Think I'll spend the rest of my life teaching him different.

I duck my head down and kiss and lick his cheek and shoulder and neck and any part I can reach until he finally pulls his head up so I can reach his mouth. I put my heart into the kiss and thrust up against him. He moves with me as if he can't help himself. I know when he's about to go over when he pulls his mouth from mine, rests his forehead on my forehead, and pants my name over and over into my mouth.

"Rayrayrayrayray...oh god Ray!" Then, he slams into me really hard, his whole body tenses up and he comes. I don't, but the rush I get from making him go almost makes up for that. He collapses on top of me, his face finding its way into that crook between my shoulder and my neck.

I hold him for a little while just feathering my hands across his back and through his hair. After a bit, he stirs against me.

"It's alive!" I say in my best mad scientist voice, then conversationally, "So, Frase, how ya doin'?"

"Unnngh." I love it. Wordy Fraser has been reduced to grunts. "Unnngh." With another groan he rolls off of me and flops, there's no other word that fits, onto his back.

I raise up on an elbow and rest my head against my hand. I grin at him. "So, Constable Fraser. Do you know how many public indecency laws you just violated? What do you have to say for yourself?"

I idly run my finger down his chest to his stomach about where his belly button would be under his shirt. He grabs my hand and brings it to his mouth and sucks on my fingers briefly. "I think its love, officer."

My heart catches. But I rally. "You think? Ya think?"

Still holding my hand he looks me straight in the eye and says, "I don't know. It might be worms." He pulls me down, kisses me and while I'm still off balance, slides out from under me and rolls to his feet.

I spit sand out of my mouth, and gamely try to come with a clever reply. "Oh, yeah?" is the best I can manage. He grins at me and heads down to the water. "Where are you going?"

"The water, Ray. I'm a bit of a....Shall we say I need to,...well.....I'm going for a swim, Ray." At least now he sounds a little flustered.

"Yeah, well, don't go out too far or get eaten by a shark or anything. I got plans for you later." *********************** Later, in the tent, before he can turn off the lantern, I push myself up on one elbow and look at him.


"You gonna tell me?"

"Tell you what, Ray?"

"Anything. Everything. Why we're here. What happened on the beach. Anything." I rest my hand on his chest and wait.

He closes his eyes, rubs his eyebrow and sits up. "To do that, I'll have to tell you a story." He glances at me to see how I'll take that.

I sit up, too, and cross my legs the way my 1st grade teacher used to call Indian-style. "Okay, shoot."

He looks at me surprised. "You want to hear a story?" he asked incredulously.

"What? Was that an attempt at deflection? I will not be turned away. Shoot, I'm ready to hear it." I put my elbows on my knees, fold my hands and assume a listening posture.

He still looks stunned. "You don't usually want to hear my stories..."

I drop my head down and sigh. "Fraser. Chill. Are perps currently shooting at us? Is Welsh tearing a piece of my ass off? Are we in Mort's Morgue discussing victim remains?"

"No, Ray."

"Are any of the conditions that caused me to cut off yet another Inuit story currently in effect right now in this tent?"

"Not that I'm aware of, Ray."

"Furthermore, did I not sit and listen to you countless times over countless fires on our adventure?"

"Yes, Ray, you did."

"Then, what's the problem? Shoot, I'm ready."

"Very well, but may I first say that the point was well argued?"

"Yeah, well, I've been hangin' out with the right people."

He smiles a little at that and turns to face me, indian-style now himself. The lantern light casts shadows on his bare chest. I can see the mark I put on him.

"You know, most wolves grow up in a pack. Each one's identity begins and ends within the pack. There is a hierarchy in each pack that is reinforced by the behavior of its members. Every wolf has a rank and must submit to anyone higher in rank, but can bully or dominate anyone lower in rank. Every wolf knows his or her place and the place of the others in the pack. Most wolves are extremely loyal to the pack, and, in fact, seem to exist for the pack. But there are exceptions." His voice drops. "Every so often one runs across a solitary wolf."

"Kinda, like a Lone Wolf, ya mean." I put my hands on his knees and rub gently.

"Exactly, Ray. A Lone Wolf generally has been ostracized for one reason or another from a pack and wanders with no clearly defined territory, listening for the howls of other wolves and avoiding them."

"I remember hearing the wolves. You remember that night? We heard probably the whole pack howling. Except, it was more like singing, they way their voices changed and moved. It made me feel...lonely. Like, I wasn't a part of it. I was glad I was with you. I don't think I would have liked to hear it alone."

He lifts up suddenly onto his knees, puts one hand behind my head and kisses me hard. It's over before I can even close my eyes, but I can feel the imprint of his mouth on mine.

He sits back down, crosses his legs and puts my hands back on his knees before continuing.

"If such a wolf is lucky and is able to find a mate, and if there is enough territory to support them, they might be able to start a new pack of their own."

"So lone wolves are looking for a pack, huh?"

"Essentially. When I first came to Chicago, on the trail of my father's killers, I was..."

"..a lone wolf." I finish for him. "Pushed outta your pack."

"My pack had questioned my loyalty and found me wanting."

I snort and tighten my hands on his knees.

"I felt I no longer had a pack to call my own. I was...." he can't seem to say it, to admit to the emotion.

"Lonely." I say for him.

"Yes, but then Ray Vecchio was there." He pauses.

I have to ask. "Was he pack?"

"Ray Vecchio was alpha in his own pack. He did his best to take me in, to make me a part of his pack...but..."

"You didn't fit." I keep holding on to him.

He looks up and meets my eyes. "No."

"Cause you're alpha, too."

"Yes, but also because....he didn't need me. Not the way I need to be needed."

"So, no pack for you there." I start rubbing his knees again, knowing there's more to the story.

"Right. Right." He licks his lip and looks down. "So, then there I was in Chicago, Ray trying to take care of me in his pack, me not fitting in and Victoria showed up."

"Bitch from Hell. I read a little about that."

"Before, when I found her at Fortitude Pass and we....spent time together...we had formed a....connection." He's still not looking at me. "When she came back I...responded to that connection."

"Your inner wolf thought she was pack." I put my hand under his chin and make him look at me. "I get it. And wolves live for and are loyal to their pack."

"Right. And the pack I thought I belonged to was telling me I didn't really belong. So, I thought that maybe I had been wrong before, turning her in and that what really mattered was being loyal to the connection between us."

"Cause being loyal to your pack before made her hate you and being loyal to what the RCMP supposedly believes and turning in Gerrard made the pack hate you. So you're thinking maybe you shouldn't be so loyal to ideas, you should just be loyal to other people."


"Cept that didn't work either. Cause she wasn't wolf, like you. More like a coyote, in wolf's clothing." I look at him steadily.

He starts to answer and can't, hangs his head down and shakes his head. He doesn't move. Slowly, I lean forward, slide my fingers over his chest and under his arms feeling the feather soft hair. I keep sliding and wrap my arms around him, then use my shoulder to ease his head up into the crook of my neck. I tighten up and hang on.

His arms come up suddenly and clutch me to him. He buries his head down farther in my neck almost to my chest, and starts to shake. Soon, I can feel moisture spreading down my shoulder and onto my shirt. He's almost totally silent as he cries, except for a few shaky gasping breaths. After a few minutes he seems to wind down.

After a few sniffs and deep breaths, he whispers into my shoulder, "I was going with her."

"Course you were. You thought she was pack." My own voice is as rough as his.

"If Ray hadn't shot me by mistake...."

"If Ray hadn't shot you, you'd have gone with her, huh? That what you think? You'd be living life on the run now?" I let go and sit back.

Head drops. Nods. I strip off my tank and hand it to him. He wipes his face.

"Benton Fraser. Try again. There is no way that woulda happened. I'd give you a day. A day and a half tops. Then you woulda turned her in, and come home."

"How do you know? How can you be so sure?" He gives me a big, wet-eyed Bambi stare over the edge of the shirt.

"How the hell do you think I know? Because I know you. Because you're my friend," I tilt my head, raise my eyebrows and leer at him ever so slightly. "And my partner."

He gives me a rueful, lopsided grin. "Was that hard to say?"

"Not in the fucking-least, Benton." I lift my butt up a little, thread my fingers through his hair, press my lips against his, lick his top lip and his bottom one, and then pull his head down to kiss his forehead. Then I put my forehead against his. "Okay. Worst part over. Now finish your story."

I sit back down, our knees touching, throw the T-shirt to the side and take his hands in mine.

"How do you know there's any more?"

"A'course there's more. We're just getting to the good part. This is where I come in."

He snorts a little at that but continues. "Right, well, after Victoria things between Ray and I eventually reached an even keel again, but it took some time. I....accepted the fact that I had no pack, that I would probably never have one."

"Lone Wolf loyal only to yourself."

"Yes. I took solace in my friendship with Ray and in his attempts to include me in his family, but I had accepted that I would always be alone. Then I went on vacation and Ray..."


"Yes." One word. Deep breath. More words. "I was....unprepared for how that would feel. I hadn't realized how much I depended on his friendship until it was simply gone. I thought it was one of the worst days in my life. I come back to what for the time being is my home only to find my apartment burned to the ground, my best friend gone and a stranger in his place. A stranger that every one else seemed to accept as my friend."

"And I'm thinking you know the score and are just being difficult."

"But as we worked together all day, I found myself responding to you. To your energy, to your impatience, and even to the quirky way your mind seemed to work. We seemed to mesh together, to complement one another in ways that Ray Vecchio and I had...not. That surprised me and took me aback. Ray had been the best friend I'd ever had and yet, here I was, working more closely and more in tandem with a man I'd only just met."

"A duet." I smile, remembering.

"As you said, Ray." He tightens his grasp on my hands and his eyes smile into mine.

"Even that first night, when I asked you to dinner and you smiled at me I could feel the connection we seemed to have. I put it down to just lucky circumstance. On the very day I lost a friend, I found one. I felt fortunate that things would go back to the way they had been, I would still be alone, no pack, but I could have a friend. And things seemed to settle into a pattern in which I was familiar.

"But then Andreas Volpe was murdered. And you came to the consulate for help. You came to...me. You needed me. And I needed to...help you. And after that, I realized I was already thinking of you as pack." He rubs his eyebrow and cracks his neck.

"But..." I prompt.

"I was scared to death."

"Thought you were all done with that, huh? Lone Wolf and all. No pack for you."

"Right, but you seemed to like me and you seemed to need me even, and I kept on needing you to like me and need me, but I was terrified..."

"So, out came Control Mountie. Niggle me to death. Stop listening, stop trusting me, maybe I'll go away and leave you in peace instead of pieces, huh?"

He smiles a little shamefacedly and nods. "I'm afraid that became very clear to me after you hit me."

I take my hands away from him and drop my head into them. "Still feel bad about that," I mumble.

He takes my hands back and ducks down to look me in the eye. "I'm pretty sure I had it coming."

"Didn't wanna fight with you. I wanted to be buddies. A duet. You weren't letting me. You were pushing me away." I put my forehead against his but close my eyes.

"I know. I wanted it too, I wanted us to be a pack, but... I didn't think you did. I didn't think you could know the things I was feeling. After you hit me, I thought that I had finally made you mad enough to leave. Making me hit you back just seemed to confirm that." His hand is up around my neck now. I can feel his fingers in my hair.

"Had to make it even Steven. It hurt like hell."

"Me hitting you?" His voice is almost a whisper.

"No, me hitting you. You hitting me almost made it feel better." His lips against mine take away the remembered pain. His tongue traces my lips lightly before going in. Heart pounding, I thread my fingers through his hair, trace his cheekbones with my thumbs while his tongue gets to know me.

He shifts his weight forward and we fall back on the bedrolls. He tears his mouth from mine and licks his way up my jawbone to my ear. I make a sort of gasp.

"Like that?" he growls.

"Uh, wow, hey, that was pretty good. Do that again." His tongue around and in my ear is seriously turning me on. He plays there awhile longer and then moves down my neck. He nuzzles a particularly ticklish spot, and I gasp in laughter. He latches on and starts to suck.

"Hey, hey." I push at his shoulders. "Vecchio'll see it."

He's panting and grabs at coherence. "I plan to tell him about our altered relationship, anyway." He moves his head back down.

"Yeah, yeah, that's cool, but you may not wanna give it to him right in the face, ya know?"

"Ah, I see."

"Sides, you might make him jealous." His weight has settled on me and feels so right.

"How so?" He cocks his head to one side like he does when he's figuring out something.

"Cause, I got you and he got the Stella." I waggle my eyebrows at him.

"And you think..."

"I don't think, I know I got the better deal."

"I'm a better deal than Stella?"

"You betcha, Red." On cue, he blushes. I hug him and then my mouth goes on without me. "How `bout you? Did you get a better deal?"

"Better than who, Ray?" His mouth moves against my collarbone as he speaks.

"Better than, ya know, Stella?" Something in me is making me ask. I know he and Vecchio didn't have a thing, but...

"Unbelievably better, Ray." His nuzzles up under my arm.

I feel myself blushing and my mouth stretching into a silly grin. "Yeah, well. There you are then."

"As you say, Ray." His mouth latches onto my right nipple and I buck up into him, my hands clutching the bedroll. He traces a trail with his tongue to my left nipple and does the same thing. Then he kisses his way down my belly lower, lower....

Without moving his mouth, his fingers slide under the waistband of my boxers and pull it carefully over my hard-as-a-rock cock. He pushes my shorts down to my knees and I kick them off. He continues to nuzzle and lick his way down and around, exploring.

"Frase, I'm dyin' here." My words are breathy and hard to force out.

"Patience is a virtue, Ray." I can feel his lips moving against my hip.

"I think we've been very patient. Come on, please...."

"Virtue should be rewarded." He's right over me now and as I watch, his tongue comes out to lick me.

"Oh God, Frase."

 I hear someone groaning and am surprised to figure out its me. After all, it can't be Fraser, because his mouth is full. His mouth is perfect and hot and wet and full...of me. That thought does it. Sends me right over the edge. I grab blindly at his head to hold it, my eyes close but I'm seeing the stars as I thrust and come in his perfect wet mouth. He gets most of it, but some gets away from him and hits me warm and slippery.

I tug on his shoulders until he climbs back up my body and hovers over me on his hands. His eyes are dark with desire and lust and love. Holding his eyes, I rub my hand through the mess on my belly and chest and coat his cock with come. His breathing gets faster and his eyes dilate even further. Then I rub some more in the valley between my leg and my belly. We line up and I put my hands on his ass to get him moving.

In seconds, he's clutching me and slamming into me as hard as he can. I can feel him start to lose it, so I slide my hands between his ass cheeks and rub my fingers, still slippery with come, over the puckered opening there. He moans and gets a mouthful of my shoulder. I slide one finger inside and that finishes him. He stiffens up and bites down tight and comes.

He collapses half on top of me and half on the bedroll. After a few minutes, I shove him over onto his back and then curl up next to him on my side. My eyes start to close, but I try to rally. After all, we're not quite through talking yet.

"So, Frase."

"Yes, Ray?"

"You gonna tell me?"

"Tell you what, Ray?"

"Anything. Everything. Why we're here."

He rolls over and we lie there naked facing each other.

"We're here to see Ray Vecchio. To tell him ...."


"Yes. And Thank you. And....that I've finally found my own pack."

"No more lone wolf for you, huh?"

"No, Ray."

"You and me and Dief, huh? We pack?"

"Yes, Ray."

"So, tomorrow, we see Ray Vecchio say goodbye, thanks, and you got a new pack and then we head back to Chicago to get Dief and then head due north back home to Canada."

"Yes, Ray."



"Yeah, Frase?"

"I love you."

"I love you, Frase."

We lie there for a minute silent, then I roll over to my other side and snuggle back against him spoon-style. Frase turns out the lantern. I'm almost asleep, when a thought occurs to me. I wiggle against him to get his attention.

"Hey, Frase."

"Yes, Ray?" Voice is sleepy sounding, maybe even a little exasperated.

"If you're alpha, what does that make me?" I wait. He'd better not say what I think he might.

He takes a minute to answer. "Well, Ray. Traditionally, an alpha's mate is also alpha."

"Oh. Okay." I snuggle back. "Oh, Frase?"

"Yes, Ray?"

"Good answer."

"Right you are, Ray."

The end.

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